March 3, 1933 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)


Before the resolution
carries I want to make a few observations with respect to the bill which is to follow, and that is in connection with the amount to be spent for direct relief. The question of the investing of the executive with power has been the subject of a good deal of debate in this chamber, and the government in the last two years has taken the responsibility of assuming the power without any limitation as to amount. Hon. members will well recall
fMr. Veniot.]
that in 1930 the condition of affairs throughout the world presented a rather alarming picture and it was thought desirable at that time to invest the executive with very wide authority in case matters arose that would need immediate attention, and that authority was exercised through the agency of the then legislation and was continued into the next year.
As hon. members know, the method of providing, first, work on a wage basis and afterwards devoting the attention of this government to help and succor for those in need has been continued up until the present time. After the legislation of 1930 had been in operation, with succeeding extensions, for some fifteen or sixteen months, it was made apparent at a provincial conference that the expenditure devoted towards works and subscribed to by the provinces, municipalities and this government, was too great a burden for those agencies to bear any longer. That subject was debated at length at a provincial conference held on April 9 last year, and it was the unanimous view of the provinces that they could no longer carry on. Of course, it resulted as well in a great deal of difficulty for the federal parliament to carry on and finance, and as a result of that conference it was determined to devote what moneys were available to the relief of those in need and to apply such funds to suit the peculiar situation that might arise from time to time in the dominion. Committees were set up in all the provinces, by the provinces themselves, to deal with their peculiar local conditions.
It has been argued here that a national commission of some sort should have been appointed and should still be appointed for the purpose. That matter was also discussed with representatives of the provinces and the answer was, as one would anticipate it would be, that the administering of moneys to those in need being, as I think every member will agree, peculiarly one for the municipalities and the provinces to deal with primarily and, in a condition of affairs such as at present exists, one to which the federal parliament is justified in contributing, the provinces would not be prepared under these conditions to relinquish their legislative authority and autonomy in so far as that subject was concerned and give it over to the federal power or to any commission set up by the federal authorities.
Mr. II.ANBURY: Has that opinion been
expressed by all the provinces of Canada?

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